Chelsea striker Álvaro Morata got the chance to prove his doubters wrong after almost an entire month without a Premier League start when the Blues hosted Southampton at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday. Unfortunately for him, the only ball he managed to put past Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn was deemed offside (probably incorrectly) by the linesman.
Bad call or not, Morata’s goalscoring woes thus persist. His last goal came on November 29th, a headed attempt to wrap up our 4-0 demolition of PAOK at Stamford Bridge. His goalless streak is now extended to five matches, and he’s probably more frustrated by that than anyone else. But part of the problem with Morata is over-thinking things and losing confidence in himself. As far as assistant manager Gianfranco Zola is concerned, Morata needs to fix those issues first.
“Mainly it is confidence. I have been a striker and you get into loops when you look for goals and they don’t come. It happens. Álvaro has to understand to be important for the club. The way we play it helps the front players to score, you have to keep working and the goals will come.”
-Gianfranco Zola; Source: football.london
Morata’s struggles with the mental aspect of the game are well documented, but they are something that he needs to learn to deal with if he wants to fulfil his promise.
“He feels that he doesn’t score enough and he feels a lot of responsibilities for that. But he has to learn to put everything behind because these are only burdens that you take on the pitch and they don’t help you to perform better. It should be a motivational thing. You are at Chelsea, you are not playing for Southampton or Brighton with all due respect to those clubs.”
“People expect a lot from the no.9 at Chelsea. They expect a lot of goals and good performances. This is normal, he has to get used to it. If he goes to another big club it’ll be the same - there is no way you can avoid your responsibilities. It’s part of your job and if you can handle that then the better you’re going to be.”
Once the mental aspect is taken care of, then Morata can worry about that minor tactical improvements that he needs to make to his game as well.
“Technically Morata - and this is the reason we invested a lot in him this year - we thought he was the perfect no.9 for us. Maurizio has always said that. Technically without doubt he is one of the best in this position.”
”I think he has to improve a little bit tactically because nowadays with the type of football, football is so organised you need to get better tactically, your ability is not enough. In my opinion he needs to improve on this. He’s been working on that, he has a good attitude.”
-Gianfranco Zola; source: Sky Sports
Morata is not the only one struggling to score at the club. Chelsea started the season in hot form, scoring 37 goals in their first 16 matches — an average of 2.31 goals per game. But ever since a drab 1-0 win to BATE Borisov on November 8th, we have found the back of the net only 19 times across 14 matches — averaging 1.35 goals per game.
Both Sarri and Zola see this as a problem that needs to be dealt with. Every team with a possession-based style has faced a goal drought in some point, as opponents have learned that closing up shop and not allowing spaces are at the moment enough to nullify a team such as Chelsea.
We need to do a much better job at opening these spaces up. Even as we struggle for fitness in the midst of a fixture schedule that takes a great toll on our players, improvement in terms of quantity and quality of chances created is of the utmost importance.
“We have another task in front of us. I can tell you in the past Barcelona had problems in the last 20 metres, Bayern, City, everyone suffers when there is no space up there. This is the big issue we have, for the amount of time we have the ball we don’t create enough chances. It is part of the process, we are not the perfect team.”
“Southampton wasn’t easy, when you have five games in your legs an it’s the sixth it is not easy. We want to pay more attention to [lack of chances].”
-Gianfranco Zola; Source: Football.London
The message is simple: play well and trust the system. When it clicks, the goals should come back.